Monday, July 15, 2013

Baked Goods in Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

Bakewell Tart
Everyone knows that I love to find ways to combine two of my favorite hobbies - baking and reading! Every once in a while, I'm surprised by an opportunity I wasn't expecting.  Life After Life">Life After Life by Kate Atkinson has been on my radar for quite a while, nominated for awards, very positive reviews, everyone seemed to be reading it, etc.  Still, I wasn't expecting it to also include a lot of content about baked goods and pastries of England and Germany from 1910-1949.  When Ursula Todd, the main character who lives many versions of her life, is in Germany, the baked goods are in German, so I had to do a bit of research.

I recently connected to a baking friend in Germany through a reading group we are both in, where we are reading Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace.  We've started exchanging recipes, because as she noted, I don't bake a lot of German desserts!  That's a shame as my heritage is half German.  I think this book and her influence will give me some opportunities to bake dishes I hadn't yet tried.

I love how far a baked good can do to set the scene, and I appreciate Kate Atkinson's obvious research into this level of detail.   How much can you learn about two people sitting down to "glasses of elderflower cordial and slices of milk fadge spread with blackberry jelly?"

Some of the baked goods that are mentioned, I have baked before:
Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte, p. 3
Mrs. Glover's seed cake, p. 47
Dobostorte, p. 136
Bakewell tart, p. 258

Some seem like German names for baked goods I have baked before (please correct me if there are differences):
Gugelhupf, p. 3 (I made a kugelhopf)
Käsekuchen, p.3 (cheesecake)

Some are baked goods I haven't ever made so I tracked down recipes to try at some point:
Bienenstich, p. 3 ("bee sting cake")
Pflaumen Streusel, p. 3 ("plum streusel cake")
Bloater-paste sandwiches, p. 46 (bloater-paste is smoked herring pate from what I can find)
Lemon curd sandwiches, p. 46-7
Jam roly-poly, p. 69
Cremeschnitte, p. 136
Riz impératrice, p. 153 (This is like a set rice pudding with geleed fruit, I don't think I'd like it!)
Milk fadge, p. 164 (similar to soda bread)
Apple charlotte, p. 168
Poppy-seed streusel, p. 362
Cinnamon and plum Torte, p. 362
Brandy-soaked pudding, p. 171

This is when I need your help! Which of these recipes should I try first?  Bloater-paste is probably the least likely, just due to lack of ingredients.  I had pinned Bienenstich for another reason, and have always wanted to make apple charlotte, but I am completely open to suggestions!


Anonymous said...

Ha! So nice you mentioned me (the one from the DFW Infinite Jest reading group) :-) Of the mentioned german recipes I can really recommend the Cremeschnitten, the Bienenstich and of course the poppy seed streusel = Mohnkuchen :-) Looking forward to your attempts at these cakes! Angelika

Trish said...

Ah, I didn't realize you were interested in this as well...Yes, the Bienenstich sounds lovely. I couldn't find a recipe for Cinnamon Plum Torte yet, but when I looked up Poppy Seed Streusel it looked like a topping which someone very cleverly put on a carrot coffee cake. But I see the earlier comment which calls it a Mohnkuchen, and that looks very delicious and very light (6 eggs) with chocolate, raisins and walnuts. So, one of those three--perhaps the Bee Sting for its name alone.